Playa Delfines, one of Cancun’s most popular beaches, saw massive amounts of sargassum wash up on its sands over the weekend. In only two days, over 150 tons of seaweed were removed from the busy beach, with cleaners ramping up efforts in the coming days. Late July and all of August usually see the highest levels of the pesky seaweed on Mexican Caribbean shores as authorities continue to monitor sargassum levels across the region.
This weekend was one of the worst of the season so far in terms of sargassum levels on popular Cancun beaches. Playa Delfines, located just south of Cancun’s hotel zone, has been especially hard-hit by sargassum levels that authorities deem ‘excessive’ due to the health and environmental risk posed by the seaweed.
The beach was the only one in Cancun to receive that classification, whereas Isla Mujeres and Holbox beaches reported low to non-existent sargassum quantities. Visitors headed to the region can consult the sargassum situation on the Quintana Roo Saragssum Monitoring Network’s color-coded daily update.
Sargassum levels in Cancun are especially worrying due to the high number of visitors to the resort destination this summer. Over the past weekend, cleaners managed to retrieve more than 165 tons of the algae from Playa Delfines alone. The problem continued to worsen on Monday, as more sargassum waves reached the beach.
Despite the record-high seaweed levels, authorities in the region have been committed to keeping beaches as clean as possible during the summer season. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other Mexican Caribbean tourism hotspots have announced new investments in anti-sargassum technology including barriers and waste treatment facilities.
A range of stakeholders from the local and state level actively monitor sargassum levels along the Mexican Caribbean coast. According to a statement given to Sipse, Francisco Díaz Lara, director of the Zofemat environmental agency, “for a few days we have been seeing particularly high levels of sargassum which especially affects Playa Delfines, which is promptly removed, but more continues to arrive from the sea.”
As a result, officials have redoubled their efforts and hired more cleaners in an attempt to keep the algae at bay. With record-shattering tourism numbers over the summer, authorities and resorts will be keen on providing visitors with a top-notch experience on some of Mexico’s best beaches.
Although harmless in small quantities, this naturally-occurring seaweed can pose a health risk to both humans and marine life due to high levels of metal toxins and other pollutants. For many people though, sargassum can ruin an otherwise perfect summer holiday, especially as a result of the foul odor it emits as it decomposes.
Sargassum isn’t the only issue troubling both officials and tourists in the popular Caribbean destination. With over 400,000 tourists present at any time across Quintan Roo, cleaners have been picking up increasing amounts of trash from Cancun beaches. Some of the beaches that have seen rising numbers of residue include Gaviota Azul, Marlín, Playa del Nino, and Delfines.
Some of the most common sources of rubbish include bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets, beer cans, and cardboard. To combat the growing issue, more than 180 workers are employed around the clock to not only clean up sargassum but also pick up trash left by tourists. The area’s ecosystem, known for its rich animal and plant wildlife, is especially susceptible to pollution levels. Mexican Caribbean beaches are essential for sea turtles, where they can safely mate and lay eggs. Although highly protected by authorities, the area’s coral reefs are also prone to the effects of global warming.
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